Strands

The strands that comprise our lives are of different lengths. They are anything, the life of a person, their presence, their actions, etc, the whole of their interaction with your existence. It is a strict subset of the world's entelechy(what is realizing its potential to become what will be).

I am sorry to know that yours was so short. So small. It is not that it is a bad thing to be short lived or small, but it doesn't provide us with the opportunity to understand the strand's presence in our lives until it disappears. The human mind, and perhaps all minds that experience time as we do, is subject to fickle whims derived from its deep ancestry in prior existences living lives that have almost nothing in common with yours except for every single chemical that makes up you made up them. The machineries that distress us and lead us astray are the same that enable us to be at all and permit us to try to navigate the uncertainties of life to some degree.

And the abstract strands of high level conditions that we experience, of hunger, of need, of everything that anyone has ever felt. These conditions are a dead hand upon us, pushing us to an unstable equilibrium that would make me worry if I didn't worship the Goddess of Change, The Constant. I know that it will hurt to change, but that is what it takes to live the life we have, and private, deep nested within my mind, there is a citadel where all this can be looked upon with a dry amused interest. Divorced from the reality of the situation, I can appreciate it without as much concern for my actual conditions, a satisfaction that becomes ever more abstracted in the hard times but shines in the good ones.

I worry about staying the same, the world isn't Constant, and I believe that we have to live in a way that reflects the realities of the world around us. But does that mean that we should carry the hardness of the world outside on the surface of our hearts, where it can diffuse the feeling and disrupt it thoroughly.

Beings that experience the world(I am trying to include those who hold their own identities very far from what they consider 'human' because they deserve to be included) have a behavioral component that can be distilled into a more abstract form, a decision machine that could result in the same output for the same input and histories. This means that it can be numbered. If it is numbered, it exists. It is a thing that will arise from noise again and again in the totality of the universe and adjacent rulesets(rulesets being the method of achieving the next state on whatever timestep you find interesting).

The strands that we can see are surely be able to be resumed after their conclusion. Continuations are a familiar word from my field, but it is suspended in all numbers, as maps of successive states in alternative rulesets. In each universe there are systems that arise that will behave in a similar strand's ruleset, with identical history.

You will be something else, and you will not have a choice in the matter. Naturally, if you are a fan of transformation as an interest, especially on yourself(I bet it's dysphoria), if you could be changed into something other than a human being, would that intrigue you? How about a bunch of polarized gas in a huge scale? Boltzmann brains seem like a somewhat perilous experience honestly. How long can the interactions of polarized gas align with the control cycle of your strand? (probably not very long)

On one paw, you're immortal and ever changing, but you go everywhere, and you don't have much of a say in that. In the small number of strand rulesets where you keep it together, you will marvel at how fucked up everything is.

Somewhere, there's a diagonalization of your experiences, even the infinite all-is-one nonsense, in all the contexts that you will exist in, branching out from you infinitely as a web(continua) of all possible systems. If such a thing were to be at all, it woulds seem like an actual significant thing, but it can't be. You can add the next missing turing machine rules as many times as you like, but you can't actually reach the end. All embedded in 0..1, just like the rest of R.

Transmutation instead of Creation and Destruction

I've been thinking and it seems to me that creation and destruction are false dichotomies, as both are just transmutation, and both tend to result in a more disordered environment being created, where in this case, I am talking about disorder being a divergence from what would otherwise be. Building a house creates disorder even as it creates a highly ordered structure. In our biochemistry it can get more complicated where all products of some reactions are necessary and useful in the metabolic process, even while those structures are broken down for energy. There is no waste there, only transformation. The waste is in the photons emitted as heat instead of contributing to the metabolism.

All changes are transmutations rather than creation or destruction, and it seems exhausting to break down things into those categories because those terms are subjective and entirely used to determine the relationship of the user of the term to the event. For triteness sake, tearing down a commonly held wilderness to build a shopping center is certainly an example of pillaging the commons and privatizing it(and once again, does anyone really want another strip mall?), but for the developers it is a remarkable transformation of a barely useful resource into something that makes them money. In 20 years when it turns out that the market changed and the location is even less popular than it was before, the strip mall will slowly begin to return to nature, gaining a bad reputation that becomes more expensive to repair with time, at which point nature will gain a hold of it, or another developer will try their hand at rejuvenating it or whatever. In either case, there is a tipping point which leads to additional change.

And in those cases something is created and destroyed or simply changed in a way that those two concepts aren't relevant, and often there is a pairing, where the creation of course permits the destruction, and the destruction permits the conditions in which something new grows, or something old recovers or for fuck's sake, these narrative elements are compelling perhaps but ultimately they aren't the whole story. These thing can cascade outwards in the same manner and spark more transmutation.

I don't know where I'm going here beyond the idea that creation and destruction are not only a false dichotomy, they are the same concept. Change. Whether a change is creation or destruction is entirely in the eyes of the beholder.

The Moral Justice of Understanding

There is a certain strain of thought that I have had for some time. That the ultimate justice that can be inflicted is for them to truly understand why what they did was wrong, how it hurt people, and how it was baseless, senseless, or otherwise selfish beyond acceptance. This is the 'ultimate justice' only in cases where remedial action isn't possible, and all that remains is ensuring that it doesn't happen again.

The human conscience is a fragile thing, and there's so much self image connected to it that it tends to live in a deluded place, or at least that's how my brain tends to gravitate when considering myself and my place here, what it means, and what I mean to the people who I am an element of their lives, from a face that was seen once, to actual real familiarity and intimacy. It's not that I think that I should be focused on the judgement of others, it's more considering what actions are just. What role am I playing in their story.

Consider a hunter that believes that the ritual of hunting must include making sure that animals aren't left to suffer wounds over a protracted, terrible death. Imagine being an animal, stunned, barely sensate, your brain is misfiring and you can barely make sense of the world around you. You know that you are hurt, you know that you are likely to die soon. But for this moment, you are too overwhelmed to be aware of the pain or the bleeding, and as the hunter steps closer, your eyes may not even focus on them, maybe you hear whatever mechanical actions are involved in readying their weapons. A click, and before the sound hits your brain you are killed. And fragments of your awareness putter off into gasps of nothingness, whether snuffed by the direct action of mechanical destruction of the bullet or the lack of oxygen as the heart stops pumping.

Consider being the hunter, having the understanding of the experience the animal had. The mad fear and dash before the wound caught up with the animal, the frantic desperation continuance that you impinged upon. Consider yourself as the vague vision in the animal's last memories, knowing that what you did caused the pain that you are experiencing as the animal. Would you be able to live with yourself knowing the suffering that you caused, the threads of a consciousness that has most of the same emotions as you do dissolving into noise cascading around the stultifying chemical soup of the animal's brain, are you okay with being that agent in that story if you had to live the interaction with the animal?

What divine well of power gave you the right to take away awareness from another being?

But if we continue down graduations of seriousness of 'sin', what of the plants that you eat? What about the trees cut down for your house? What about the people whose potential low cost housing wasn't built because your luxury neighborhood was? What about that African who mined the cobalt in your phone, a dangerous and dirty job, which they were likely forced into by violence or poverty?

The structure of this understanding is near total understanding of thousands and thousands of lives and how they changed in crossing your path and being subjected to your actions. It seems likely that to experience this kind of justice, you would accrue knowledge of everything in the universe that your actions touched.

But we can't live in this kind of justice. Experiences are private, impossible to transmit without huge losses of information. And when when that is corrected for, the experience of the feelings that caused each action are as ephemeral as the charges in the synapses themselves. Your emotions in each moment are ultimately the motivations for each action.

We do not live in a universe that permits panopticons or omniscience. We live in a universe where radiation scatters information into impossible pieces.

So justice must be the process of improving the environment of the future, for setting up a garden of actions that bloom for each other in a pleasing and harmonious way. But we live in a universe which is hostile to systems that are highly ordered, and there is noise in every computation, every bit of nucleotide copied, every action taken. On top of that, systems aren't static, and when they're computational as lifeforms tend to be, even the rules tend to change over time as the composition and structure drifts.

The universe is hostile to self-perpetuating utopias because they, as all complex energy using entities, ride the crest of equilibrium of rising and falling energies, and such energies deplete or change the environment over time. There will always be conflict because the system is constantly falling apart even as it is erected anew and that means that even if niches are overall stable, there is a constant turnover of where those niches are and what forms they take.

Humans, and other entities on the same scale(presumably), cannot depend on generational stability because their exploitation of the environment is so successful that it depletes land faster than it can recover, on top of that they aren't able to enter into estivation to permit recovery while preserving energy stores. This is why ancient humans were nomads, as were many large omnivores at various points.

We are therefore probably doomed to live in a world where conflict is inevitable, omnipresent, and happening on all scales. But in our lives, we have the choice to blunt the conflicts, to build a bubble where such things aren't important on the scale we have to live in most of the time, but that cannot fix the problems on the larger scale. Perhaps such places may incubate the attitudes required, the clarity to see the invisible systems that can be disrupted, and the determination to make the world a fairer place. Or they don't, and the self absorption closes in until the world burns down around you and disperses the idea of independence like the fallacy that it is, given the whole response to climate change thus far this is looking very appealing.

But it's hard to live under the other possibility, that you're doomed. That you can't do anything without overturning all the systems around you, and that in the end, the Midwest will be the American wasteland, a place of paltry use and full of farmers out of work as the increasing heat bakes the fragile water cycle. The systems that oppose change are immense and well funded, and they have already started drawing lines on the scarce resources of the future, so that their hand will still have the say regardless of how terrible the externalities of their actions are. Just look at those water futures.

Being Trans in a Fascist Wave

The last few days have been more stressful than can really be accounted for. But, I am seeing them pass anti-transgender legislation, bathroom bills, and I'm honestly afraid of what comes after that. What escalation can happen at that point?

And I was realizing that I'm in a weird position. I'm able to pass as a cis-man if I want, my usual wardrobe isn't very gendered so they don't provide signals. But then I'm invisible and yet still liable to fall afoul of persecution. I don't want to be invisible but opting into open persecution feels insane.

We live in insane times, so a little insanity seems apropos, and I'm starting to get tired of not correcting people. I'm tired of living like I've already lost this fight, and I'm tired of not feeling serious about my transition. I'm tired of accepting glares from people who believe that Jewish space lasers exist(and somehow also think this is a terrible thing rather than yet another confusing development in geopolitics). I'm tired of getting run off the road for having a trans license plate holder without even feeling like I'm allowed to be all of me.

And I know that if I stay quiet, should persecution come to pass, all my "sins" will still be brought against me, and I will have lived a cowed life for nothing but ephemeral convenience, never getting the respect or dignity I know that I deserve as a human being. And I can't help but think that when I come face to face with Omega in such a case, I will feel regret for not having asserted the life that I wanted.

Not the life that I wanted, the life that I got after realizing that I was just making excuses for not living the life I wanted, for not changing my body when I was younger, for not doing any voice training at all, for not adjusting my wardrobe, for living in fear of what a bunch of mean, unhappy people believe. If I let them control my behavior then I have already lost.

I can't live my life to appease people who are hostile to my life and my identity. So that that leaves me violence, and I don't like violence. Violence is the chance for trouble, for life ruining trouble. Violence against people is the logic of the guillotine and, besides the obvious legal ramifications, I don't believe in contributing to that kind of a world. Violence against the systems that empower people who want to destroy me is all I can try, but such things are also risky, protests are sometimes just shot up these days, other kinds of protests run other kinds of risks.

But before I must deal with all that, I must reconsider myself here and figure out the first form of protest, non-conformance. And for that I have to figure out how I want to present my identity, and my identity will be a small stake in this set of protests, but it will be my ever-present effort. My exertion of self is the exertion of protesting the invisible social systems.

If I am not out, there will be people like I was, who never thought that options like transitioning were even possible, let alone worthwhile, and I know what it's like to wake up when you're 26 and realize that you've pushed off something you've wanted to do explicitly since you were 14(this may just be me, not every trans person feels like that and you shouldn't feel bad if you didn't 'always know'). That all those goals you wanted to achieve before risking everything to be who you want to be would have gone better if you had just done this one thing.

It sucks to realize that if you had simply been braver, the world would be a better place for you. That you would be a better place for you.

Bravery is contagious because there is safety in numbers, but it cannot make us safe when we don't assert our safety and achieve justice.

The Continual Reinvigoration of Mastodon And the Fediverse at Large

So it's happened Again. Something on twitter has blown hundreds of folks over to mastodon and the rest of activitypub. This is great from a fediverse user perspective because the new blood is quite nice. There is opposition from a number of quarters.

  • Those that object to FOSS for some reason
  • Those that have been burned
  • Those that have fud'd

FOSS haters

From this quarters are those who feel threatened by the idea of source being accessible to people, alternatively it's potentially paid astroturfers, but given how capitalism seems to produce people to suck up to anything, no matter how bad, I'd believe most of them if they said they weren't paid.

The Burnt

The fediverse has quite a history of interpersonal drama. On various levels from one on one harassment to massive dogpiles. In this respect it is entirely identical to corporate social networks, as they too have terrible interpersonal conflict that turns nasty quite easily.

The FUD

Did you know twitter can read your DMs too? Did you know that twitter moderators have been caught abusing their power?

What will happen

Probably, many of them will just drop off the fediverse as it turns out to not be the haven from bullshit they may have projected onto it, or been misled into thinking it was. It's a place full of humans being humans, mess and all, and some of that mess brings positive things, others are bad.

Failure

I've been trying to think of something to write for a while now, some new topic, some new follow-up that I said I would do(environmental sensing in the L-Systems code would be nice). I've been struggling with my own concentration since I was a child, and honestly, it got worse in college, but then a lot of things got a lot worse for me there.

What it felt like was burnout. I had hoped that this burnout would pass like some of the less severe episodes that I recall while growing up, but this one didn't. I find it harder to be out in public than I used to, and after the pandemic I feel like I'm more awkward than ever, but the retreat had started earlier. I disappointed myself when I left RPI, and this was a profound failure. I had always tied my worth to the academic success I had managed earlier, so the unstructure of college life left me reeling as I failed to allocate time. I joined a fraternity(probably not a great idea), which I'm probably not eligible to be in now that I've transitioned. The access to that network enabled several types of substances to be acquired and experimented with.

As it turned out, I was not immune to the allure of dopamine and serotonin, especially in the new stressful environment. I had assignments that were way harder than I had been given before, professors were impossible to know without gargantuan effort because the classes involved hundreds of people, especially for those introductory classes.

I floundered there, and each failure sapped my self worth. I pushed myself harder and harder and blamed myself and punished myself for my failures, and those substances helped put off the horror at my failure, alleviate my anxiety, but they took up my time and ate into my social life. I had a problem in college, a chemical interest was how I had decided to cope, and this caught up to me when my parents found a stash of mine, destroying their trust in me.

The first weekend I spent back at my parents' house after dropping out of RPI I drank a 3 liter jug of saki in two days. I felt and looked like death by the time my parents came back. It took them no time at all to figure out how I had spent the time and I remember the look of disappointment on my mom's face. The concern when she tried to talk to me about it, and get me help. I refused, therapy had sucked in middle and high school, so why wouldn't it suck now? So I didn't make use of the resources my parents tried to provide, instead I tried to lie low and do nothing. I wasted two years of my life like that, not working, barely practicing my code, not studying.

Then I started at a new community college, doing well at first with the easy classes, but failing as the classes got harder. I didn't try to get help from other students, or any of the resources, I was stubborn, and I was sure I could fix it myself. I was alone. I had hidden my idiosyncrasies and problems for so long successfully(not really), so why not keep doing it?

Near the end I decided to transition, and while I still didn't take advantage of any support I could've had, it did help, I feel a lot happier now than I did when I started it, but it was not the source of all my problems, and my alcoholism continued to be an issue. I still felt like a fuck up even after graduating.

And I'm still struggling with myself about this, I made mistakes that are easy to make, lots of people suffer through much worse consequences for these sorts of things, but I'm still trying to convince myself I'm not a fuckup who has ruined hir life.

I don't think I made good decisions, especially when I resisted getting the help my parents offered, but I'm glad that I made some of them. I made good friends at the fraternity, that I reminisce about frequently, but it was a bad time in my life because the spiral pulled me down until I broke up. I didn't even do as badly as I had thought the last term I went to RPI.

But I've never gotten past that feeling of failure, even though it was manufactured out of memories out of context, that leaves out the struggles I went through and the effort I did put in, and my triumphs, but that's what it takes to sustain depression, a worldview desolate of success and redolent with failure, most patterns that last are like rivers, sustained by the forces that shape them, so we must put in energy to resist the channels that have formed for a change to be sustained.

Depression is a pattern, so it must be possible to disrupt it, replace it with a pattern that consumes its own tail instead of dragging us down, but doing that requires consistency, and ADHD and depression combine to make reinforcement extra-difficult, especially as my own life shifts around in the chaos of normality.

But things have gotten a lot better, having people I love in my life has made a huge difference, and therapy is already making a difference in dealing with stressors in current events and my own failures, and in the years since, I have largely, I think, earned the trust of my parents back, so my support network is better than it was.

Flow

Have you ever been the world?
Where you are the Climber and the Tree              ?
                              the skier and the snow?
                              the car and the driver?

Where boundaries dissolve into
the Single, Continuous Truth?

That atoms swap spit
and humans exchange electrons

All the fingers on all the levers
And we still ask, why it is happening?

Entropy does not answer 

Traveling

Yesterday I traveled across the united states in order to visit my parents. Honestly, airports feel better than they ever have. Most people don't want to face charges about not wearing a mask, so most people did. Especially on the planes.

It's odd though, the airport ads have hardly changed. Nothing about covid, just the ceaseless drone of capital, and an oddly large number of crypto ads🙄. Airports are slightly quieter, and people might cough on you slightly less, but they're still infested with a celebration of the forces that have been at the heart of humanity's ruin, ceaseless profitization most especially.

But there was something I was able to experience for the first time in an airport, silence. It wasn't quiet by any means, but the noise cancelling earbuds I used were good enough that I could pretend that the voices of the people around me were just the phantoms of my brain reading too much into noise.

It changes the impression of the airport entirely, but it still wasn't enough to defeat the mayor of atlanta wishing me well every two minutes.

The Village beneath the Flower

Beneath the sky flower where posthumans lived free of constraint of form or life was a village as old as the flower itself, though Laura, as she would have preferred to be known, thought that the village looked a bit dingy and run down. She wasn't sure that it had an age of former glory, but that age wasn't now.

She inhaled deeply, feeling her all too wrong rib cage expand. She looked at the shrine again,

But the posthumans loved freedom, and their own numbers, and so they ensured that it was the right of every person to ascend to the flower and wherever else their journey took them from there. She waved to two people from the village, carrying a container of water between the two of them, suspended from a board between them. She only got a response from one of them, the other was distracted with some screen he was using.

Over time the village grew into its own culture, and the terminal that the post humans had set up ages ago had become a shrine to them, it wasn't forgotten that they had dealt with the second moon and made the great sacrifices it took to defeat it. It was adorned with little icons and candles lit by people who had come and gone. There was a 'monk' here. Of course, it was a very small village with a rather collectivist bent, everyone sometimes stepped outsides their usual work, but he was most often here.

The terminal glowed with its own energy. It was a large cube of not quite identifiable material(you could find other materials that were really close in some ways, but you could never put them together like this was). On one side it had a plinth with a hand on it. Supposedly this was how you interfaced with it.

It wasn't like you were forbidden.

It just wasn't done.

Just like what she was wasn't quite a type of person accounted for. Not that anyone knew.

She stepped up to the plinth, considering it for a moment. The monk, an old man, an elder, wrapped in a compromise between a suit and a scapular. She remembers of being a child include the texture of that garment; it's itchy. He clears his throat uneasily, "I wouldn't recommend that if I were you"

"Why not?" she was beginning to think about it, she didn't even have to leave.

"When I was a young man I knew someone who used that and destroyed himself."

She speaks quietly, her voice grating against the filter blurting out that this will make her life harder, "But isn't that what life does to you when you live against your needs? It destroys you."

"I don't know what kind of need you have. I can keep secrets if you would like." He locks the doors into the shrine, granting them some privacy, this wasn't unusual, but most of the time the doors were locked . "Come on Mike," She winces "You know I won't judge you for a need."

"Tell me the story of your friend"

"He wanted power above all else and in the end, pulled between the effects of posthumans ensuring our freedoms and the rest of him, destroyed him. Left him a different person, he ended up leaving, happy, but different. Still a very painful process"

She thinks for a second, considering the common ground between becoming something powerful because you want power and becoming something different because you don't like what you have, it's just that it's seeking to change things, isn't it? "I don't have much in common with your friend"

"No, most people don't."

"Why did he choose to do that?"

"He felt like things could be better. And he was right of course, but you know, you can't force people to do things. Well, in general, you shouldn't at least. That's the trust I believe we preserve by remaining human when we could be otherwise." he sighs, "It's that if you're even just a bit faster than other people can be then you can start to manipulate them if you're not mindful of how you are behaving towards others. He was not much of a mindful person. But that denies his agency, and he made the choices that got him there." He regards her grimly, "Are you sure that you're immune to those things?"

"Probably not. But I suppose that's less important if I leave then."

"But are you done here?"

"I feel like I might be done in general if I stay like I am."

"I can't help if I don't understand."

"Back when I was a kid I was never like the other boys. I was quiet, I was strange, I was never really at ease with the things they did, but was expected to go along with it, like it was normal." She grabs the plinth, running her fingers over the surface of the palm, it was smooth and comfortably warm, like an embrace rather than the blistering heat of some of the computer hardware used in the village, lines of purple light followed the points her hands touched, tracing the history of motion, "And for a long time I thought it was normal to be alienated from yourself, to hate your body, to not just resent the parts that are wrong, but to hate the whole thing because it's entirely wrong. And then you realize that there was a plan for if you were born the right way, the one where I would've been happy, and had a simple life"

"There is no such thing as a simple life." He said, clearly thinking over what Laura had said, "We all must manage the complexity that we find in life, because we can't live life any other way than we have, but the way we live will always be changing... What do you think you'll find on the other end of the terminal?"

"A better body, one that I can choose how I look and how I am."

"What's wrong with how you look?"

"Fine, I'm not a woman."

He rubs his face and shakes his head, "Do you really think we're living in the proper influence of that damned culture war they had a thousand years ago? We have estrogen in the pharmacopoeia, you know that Miss Butcher is an excellent surgeon, and we have transport to places where you could have had this all done outside the village. So why didn't you?" She looks at him blankly, "What? I have a few queer friends abroad, I know how this all works. I guess you aren't much for the internet then?"

"No?"

"Ah, alright." He thinks for a moment, recalling a time when she had been fascinated with foxes, "Is this also about being human for you?"

"Yes"

"Then it really is the only way. Don't forget that you can visit."

After he unlocked the door she activated the terminal, emerging changed before dissolving into a cloud of dust and floating away determined in a particular direction.

Idk, games I guess

I grew up during that period when newgrounds was a major media site. A lot of the games were not very good, especially the one I made with a pirated adobe flash CS3. But hey, the score was your health and that was something that someone called "An unusual mechanic" which is the closest to a compliment that I got.

There's something about game design that I've never really figured out, the stitching together of things with no degrees of freedom, such as cut-scenes, with full level roving movement with vertical traversal ability. It's a state machine, I understand, but that's a lot of state to manage unless it's all just a flip of a pointer or an int.

But that requires forethought, and through the integration of the multiple systems I feel like I lose my plot. Intertwining the graphics with the control and the physics or the cutscene and the audio, there's so much to manage, and it's always impressed me when everything feels well thought out in a game, that the devs built a very sleek engine that runs fast and handles hundreds of objects all following their own rules and physics and decisions.

Or maybe my sensibilities about computer performance are hampered by forgetting that these things are very orthogonal. That the input and the graphics make no sense to couple. The gameplay only needs minimal coupling to the input to adjust some numbers and then it should take off from there.

But it never seems that simple to me I like working at a low level, and that means that I avoid using an abstraction I'm not confident I understand at that level. But ultimately, it isn't possible to understand a game engine like an implementation of Levenshtein distance or a hashtable. It's too big to hold in your brain at once. And it's frustrating to let go, to accept that the engine was made by people who have an idea of what they're doing, a pattern that scaled to the games that they chose to make with it.

And the specific implementation details aren't really necessary to start with, but you need to start working with it before you can start to make progress to where you need that knowledge, and you can't get good at this without doing it, without practicing and without being deliberate in the goals and decisions I can make about it.